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Monday, January 21, 2013

Henderson: A Blueprint for Law School Change: The 12% Faculty Solution

William D. Henderson (Indiana), A Blueprint for Change, 40 Pepp. L. Rev. 461 (2013):

This Article discusses the financial viability of law schools in the face of massive structural changes now occurring within the legal industry. It then offers a blueprint for change – a realistic way for law schools to retool themselves in an attempt to provide our students with high quality professional employment in a rapidly changing world. Because no institution can instantaneously reinvent itself, a key element of my proposal is the “12% solution.” Approximately 12% of faculty members take the lead on building a competency-based curriculum that is designed to accelerate the development of valuable skills and behaviors prized by both legal and nonlegal employers. For a variety of practical reasons, successful implementation of the blueprint requires law schools to band together in consortia. The goal of these initiatives needs to be the creation and implementation of a world-class professional education in which our graduates consistently and measurably outperform graduates from traditional J.D. programs.  

Among the many interesting charts in the article:

Chart 1
Chart 2

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Comments

I don't question the good faith of people addressing this issue. But I can't help thinking they are making it worse. If people see that law professors themselves are preoccupied with the "decline" of the profession, why should they go to law school? The predictions in any case make the mistake of all predictions: they assume present trends will continue and people won't adjust. They won't, and they will.

Posted by: michael livingston | Jan 21, 2013 2:26:03 AM

"The goal of these initiatives needs to be the creation and implementation of a world-class professional education in which our graduates consistently and measurably outperform graduates from traditional J.D. programs."

This whole practice-ready education idea is really just window-dressing. Assuming it's actually possible for a school to create a curriculum that is so attractive to legal employers that the school can actually punch above its weight, that just means that other law grads are out of a job. It's a zero-sum game, a fixed pie.

We should be trying to figureout how to reduce the number law grads, and reduce the COA at law school for the remaining grads.

Posted by: john | Jan 21, 2013 3:25:57 AM

Edward Tufte is having nightmares over Figure 8.

Posted by: Ted Frank | Jan 21, 2013 6:21:23 AM

Hahaha. What a farce. This is about as bad as when another professor stated that the solution to the job/debt crisis was that faculty had to be more productive scholars. Both suggestions translate to: "We'll just be better than we've ever been." What an extraordinary level of denial and wishful thinking.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 21, 2013 7:01:05 AM

It's not a bad idea. Many law schools are not at scale.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 21, 2013 6:43:37 PM

Professor Livingston above writes, "If people see that law professors themselves are preoccupied with the "decline" of the profession, why should they go to law school?"


That is a very, very good question. Why should people go to law school right now?

And what I really mean is, given the graphics in Professor Henderson's chart 8, and taking a solid, middle-pack school Tier 2 like Rutgers Camden into consideration, shouldn't far fewer people be going? R-C's stats are not materially different than the average Tier 2 school presented in that chart.

Sure, R-C gives a first class education. That is not in question and should not become the question. The problem is that there simply are just not enough jobs.

Particularly when you consider that of those in R-C's "full time legal jobs" category, about half are in state or local clerkships. While some of these may last more than a year, most will not. And how many of these (definite end-point) "full time legal" jobs will lead to other full time legal employment? (I don't know.)

So, sorry for the long-winded comment here, but I very much agree that, "If people see that law professors themselves are preoccupied with the "decline" of the profession, why should they go to law school?" is the question of the day.

Posted by: concerned_citizen | Jan 22, 2013 10:37:00 AM